(Note: several months after this review is published I got the following letter from the new owner of the Jameson. Read it below and perhaps give them a fair shake, despite my impressions of the place under the old regime:)
Hi my name is Debi Baker, I am the new owner of The Jameson Inn, in Wallace ID. You did a review on the Tall Pine Drive- in, in Pinehurst Idaho when my husband and I owned it. We have since taken over the Jameson Inn and in fact decided to do that the very day your article came out about The Jameson.
Yikes! I am not saying your article was not well deserved, we also had a dismal experience when we went to eat there in May, that was why I wanted to get my hands on it, keep it open all year and bring it back to what it is supposed to be. We have so far but your article is still on Get Out Idaho and we have lost three large groups because they read it and didn't want to "chance" it. Each group was 50 to 70 people.
The reason I am writing I'm sure is clear at this point. I would like to ask you to come back. we are open everyday except Tuesday, for lunch and dinner and Brunch on Sunday. I am not asking to know when or for what meal, only that you come back and give my husband and I a chance to change your mind. Doug Clark came to stay here right after we took it over and had a very nice time and loved the food and wrote a very nice article about it, but... PLEASE give us a chance to change YOUR mind.
Thank you in advance?
Jameson Restaurant and Saloon
304 Sixth St., Wallace
"A ghost is someone who hasn't made it - in other words, who died, and they don't know they're dead. So they keep walking around and thinking that you're inhabiting their - let's say, their domain. So they're aggravated with you." ~ Sylvia Browne
Maggie the Ghost needs to get busy throwing plates and shattering coffee cups. Legend has it that a woman named Maggie checked into Wallace’s Jameson Inn decades ago and never really checked out. Apparently, she waited patiently in her room for months and months for her rich suitor to return from a trip back east, and he never did and though she finally gave up and left the hotel in life, in death she has returned to wait it out for eternity. I can’t blame Maggie for being in a rotten mood, but unfortunately her bad vibes seem to have put a curse on the service level and quality of food in the old Inn’s restaurant.
We decided to meander over to Wallace for lunch, but it wasn’t until we pulled into town we realized we had arrived during some kind of street festival with a patch of craft and food booths and a stage show featuring a young boy playing screeching electric blues on his guitar. We picked the Jameson at random, and when we got settled into our table we figured out via a table topper that we’d come during not only the annual Huckleberry Festival, but also on the exact day of the 100th anniversary of the Great 1910 Fire, which burned through ten national forests and is still the largest wildfire in US history.
Apparently, the Jameson was the place to commemorate the disaster, as the restaurant was bubbling with people, some even wrapped in conversation about the subject. The Jameson dining room is thick with spectral energy, and staff and customers have reported for years of hearing disembodied voices partying it up in what once was one of the rowdiest saloons in the west. The bar itself is awe inspiring, a massive mirror-filled wooden arch which reaches ten feet to nearly the top of the lofty ceiling.
We settled into our menus and immediately spotted something called the “1910 Fire Burger”, which included jalapenos, pepper-jack cheese and BBQ sauce. A fiery mouth was the perfect way to commemorate the occasion we thought, so both of us decided to go for it. Things started off well enough, with the waitress arriving moments later with our Bloody Marys, not the best we’d ever had, but strong enough to do the trick and complete with an asparagus spear and a tiny baby onion.
Our luck started to go a bit pear-shaped when, nearly fifteen minutes later, a different waitress arrived and said “Sorry, we’re all out of hamburger. We’re getting more but it’s going to be a while before we can do anything with it since it’ll be frozen.” How long is “a while”, we asked, only to be told “I don’t know, honey, just a while, okay?”
Rather than wait it out, we disappointedly opted to have another look at the menu. Obviously, frozen burgers were out, and barring the beyond-our-budget dinner selections, the other options were quite minimal. We were thinking about ordering nachos from the appetizer menu, but that plan was derailed when we heard the waitress tell a nearby table, “Sorry, we’re out of those too.” Rats, foiled again.
With visions of juicy burgers still dancing in our heads, nothing much else on the menu really grabbed us. I opted to try their Reuben, a recent fetish of mine, and my lunch partner ordered a club sandwich on Rye. We ordered another round of Bloody Marys and our server returned with something entirely different from our first drink, with no garnish, no Worchestershire, no Tabasco, and a vague hint of tomato juice. It was so strong with cheap well vodka we were barely able to hack it, and this is coming from a couple of seasoned professionals.
Our lunches finally arrived a long 35 minutes later. We noticed right away that the waitress must have neglected to mention that they were also out of rye bread, for my Reuben was served on some kind of cracked wheat and so was my friend’s Club, despite the fact he had specifically ordered rye. I peeled open my sandwich to realize they must also be out of Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing, and what I was left with was a few fried scraps of dry roast beef (not pastrami), a smidge of sauerkraut that looked like it was formerly dehydrated, and a half-teaspoon of mayo globbed right in the center of it all.
It was dry and nearly inedible, and the accompanying onion rings were semi-cooked, limp and dripping with room temperature cooking oil. My lunch partner nearly gagged as he bit into his Club sandwich and globs of warm mayo gushed out from between thick chunks of canned, reconstituted turkey. The saving grace was his potato salad, which almost seemed homemade, and wasn’t exactly fantastic, but at least gave us something to nibble on, since everything else on our plates was beyond consumption.
We could have raised a fuss and asked for our food to be erased from our bill, but at that point we just wanted to flee the scene. We paid and left in fast fashion, leaving it up to Maggie the Ghost to wreak her havoc at the Jameson and hopefully scare some sense into the staff and make them improve their tragic situation.